Fixing DRR soft mats
|This article is marked 'feel free.' Often because its authors know they won't spend as much time on it as they should. Your help is appreciated.|
Dance mats are not the sturdiest things ever. The platforms are a bit more durable, though on the other hand, new soft pads aren't very expensive, so you can easily buy a new one or set. You may want to read a few customer reviews to get an idea of which brands will likely last longer, though.
Some problems are easy to solve, while others have to be done with care, as some fixes can help new problems along - particularly closing a mat you have cut open has to be done carefully.
Note that a theory like "well, it's not usable anyway, so I might as well try to fix it. Nothing lost if I don't manage or even break it more" may help :)
Soft pad anatomy
This is explained in various places. Some have good pictures, find one.
Symptoms and solutions
One (or more) arrows only works in a small area (often off-center)
This is likely the foam-with-holes having moved over time, or sometimes torn. (note that the contact areas are usually larger than the area of the foam that has holes)
You may be able to push things around without opening it up. However, as this is likely related to wear, you may have to cut open the pad and move, tape the pad down and/or the tears closed, or replace the foam (possibly with some DIYing).
Buttons react as if they are pressed repeatedly, or do so when I didn't touch them
This happens when the foam is very thin and/or torn, from wear. The two contact areas can touch much too easily, or unpredictably (e.g. when the pad parts move shift a little). This means you'll have to cut the mat open and replace the foam with some newer foam. You can usually try to look for foam of the right thickness and make holes in it. (though it is harder to judge how fast any particular piece of foam will wear)
One (or a few) direction pads do not work at all, the rest work perfectly
In some designs, this is likely inside the hard plastic control box - some of the strips from the pad areas are not making good contact inside the control box.
In this specific case, it may be fairly easy to solve: Screw open the box, look for the connection between the plastic-wire-strip part with the circuit board. If this is done with a thickish (often black) adhesive strip, you can often solve it by putting small piece of cardboard on it, so that closing the box applies more force to the strip, which makes it more likely that the parts connect well.
There are other possible reasons, such as parts having torn.